Friday, August 26, 2011

Grace. Grace. Grace. Grace.

In my life this week... I was confronted again and again by the word Grace. My theme for 2011 is Peace, and I have noticed Peace's twin is often Grace. Such as, in the opening of Ephesians, when we read, "Grace and Peace to you." I blogged about Stephanie reminding me to pray for Grace, and then our senior pastor preached on Grace. I also spent a night with my best friend and her daughter, Olivia Grace. Then I plopped down in a new journey group at church and, lo and behold, my first week's exercises are about... Grace.  I am no longer just asking God for Grace, though. I am now asking Him to help me give Grace to my husband and children. 

In our homeschool this week... we learned quite a bit about ancient Egypt. I absolutely ADORE Story of the World. We also started using The Action Bible, and Haydn loves that.

Helpful Homeschooling Tips or Advice to Share... Giving Haydn a To-Do list has drastically changed our days. Haydn feels more in control of his activities and I do not have to constantly answer the question, "What's next?"

I am inspired by... Unschoolers. I love the concept of folding our learning into regular day-to-day activities. With Haydn's Asperger's and my own ADHD, I have to impose more structure than I like. But I try to take a page from the Unschooler's book and look for teachable moments everywhere. I need to be better at this. Too often, I am distracted and annoyed by interruption. 

Places we're going and people we're seeing... We drove to Brandon after school on Monday and spent the night at my best friend's house. Haydn had a neuro appointment in Jackson the next morning. It was a really quick appointment, and we grabbed a treat from Cups before heading back to Leila's. We dragged Haydn out to eat, to Target and to pick over the bones of Borders. I got a few really great deals. We used Time4Learning while there.

My favorite thing this week was... Haydn aced his spelling test for the first time this semester. He also got 4 out of 5 challenge words correct. He was so excited when I wrote 104 on his paper.  :) I love seeing him do something well. He struggles with so much; he needs to feel good at something.

What's working for us... Visual Vocabulary. When I first started homeschooling, I would give Haydn vocabulary words to define. The next day, he made flashcards. The next day, he wrote sentences. Then I would quiz him with the flashcards and finish up with the test on Friday. It worked okay, though he HATED the sentence writing part. He always missed at least a few on the test. I decided to change it up a bit.  Now, on Monday he defines the words and still makes flashcards on Tuesday. On Weds, however, we do Visual Vocabulary. I sit down and explain each word to him, using the word in sentences and talking about why we might prefer it to another word. I also type the word into Google Images and show Haydn examples (when possible). I quiz him with flash cards on Thursday, and he only has to write sentences for those he misses. He has yet to miss one.  He works harder to get them right, because he really hates writing sentences. He has made 100 on all of his vocabulary quizzes this semester.

Questions/thoughts I have... How do I help Haydn be more positive? I have worked hard, over the last few years, to be less of a whiner and more cheerful. But it is hard to maintain my pleasant demeanor through a whole day with my negative child. He approaches every task as something that will be hard and not fun. He complains about how many words he has to define, how many items are on his to-do list, etc... He cries over every criticism or correction. He wails things like, "This will take 50 bajillion hours!" Over and over, I show him how his statements are untrue. We compare the time he thought it would take to how long it actually took to complete the task. I remind him he is not expected to be perfect but to always try his best. I offer prizes for work completed complaint-free. I still have a child whose default mode on a school day is anger/despair. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Things I'm working on... I am participating in a Companions in Christ journey group at church. I am working on doing the exercises daily instead of saving them all up for the day of the group meeting. I am also working on my tone of voice. I tend to sound demanding or condescending when I do not mean to. Well, in all honesty, sometimes I do mean to.

I'm reading... The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. I just started it today. I love her work. I am also reading Battle of the Labyrinth to Haydn and a couple of nonfiction books: 31 Days to Clean and Don't Make Me Come Up There. In the car, we are listening to The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

I'm cooking...  I have a tub of fudge cookie dough I ordered from one of the youth. I have been making a few cookies at a time, which keeps me from over-indulging.

I'm grateful for... All of the wonderful materials that help me teach Haydn and feel confident in what he is learning. I am grateful that homeschool means I don't have to fight the system over things like an IEP or time out for therapy. I am grateful that homeschool also means my child is not confined in a room full of kids who do not understand him all day.

I'm praying for... Grace. Grace to do what I need to do and Grace to offer to those around me.

Quote to share... "She really is crazy," remarked the Glass Cat. "But that isn't to be wondered at when you remember how many different things she's made of." From The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L Frank Baum

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